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Eagles' Diedrick hit the top at Webber

When Webber College coach John Dunlap brought Don Diedrick in for a basketball tryout, just one look was all it took.

Diedrick had gone to the small school in central Florida along with Springstead High teammate James Mullady (now at Minnesota-Morris) after a few other schools had offered either partial or no scholarships.

"When Dunlap talked to (Springstead coach Greg O'Connell), it was the first time we'd ever heard of Webber," said Diedrick's mother, Beth. "But when Don met (Dunlap), I think that was the deciding factor."

Dunlap offered a full scholarship, Diedrick accepted, and both decisions have paid off.

The 6-foot-6 forward has become the school's all-time leading scorer, surpassing Therman Bronaugh's previous record of 1,518 points.

Diedrick's achievement was recognized in the first quarter of a 96-78 win over Flagler on Feb. 7. When the junior scored the second basket of the game, he was presented with the game ball in a ceremony that included Bronaugh and Webber College president Rex Yents.

The occasion was even more special for Diedrick because his grandmother, visiting from Oklahoma, was there to see it.

"She's only seen me play basketball maybe two other times in my life," Diedrick said. "It made (the occasion) even better."

Diedrick now has 1,700 points in his career and has another full season to go. Webber is 15-13 overall this season and 7-4 in the Florida Sun Conference.

Diedrick, who is averaging 14.7 points per game, actually broke the record a few weeks ago, but because some of the school records were unavailable, Dunlap was unable to come up with a total. It was then that he decided to honor his star with the home-court ceremony.

"Don called us the night before (the Flagler game) and said he had a big surprise," said Beth Diedrick, who also played basketball in Oklahoma in junior high school. "He said his worst nightmare was that he wouldn't score all night. I said, "Don, that's never happened to you your whole career.'

"

Webber College, a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, is located in Babson Park, a small town in southern Polk County near Lake Wales. But it was another Polk County school _ NCAA Division II Florida Southern _ that Diedrick initially had his heart set on.

The Lakeland school told him he had to walk on, however, and Diedrick wanted more security than that.

He averaged 23 points his freshman year, including impressive performances against Tampa and Rollins, two Division II teams that he may well have played against regularly had Florida Southern taken him.

But it wasn't until this season that he got a chance to show off his wares against Florida Southern.

"(The FSC staff) talked to me, saying that I was having such a good year," Diedrick said. "I felt like saying, "Yeah, it could have been for your team.'

"

Now that he has settled in for good at Webber, Diedrick has established himself not only as a player, but as a resident assistant at his dormitory.

"He's really emerging as a campus leader," Dunlap said. "He sets an example on and off the floor."

Another positive for Diedrick is the presence of Ryan O'Connell, an old Springstead teammate, to distribute the ball.

"He just knows when I'm going to be popping into the lane," Diedrick said of O'Connell, the son of Springstead head coach Greg. "He knows me well."

Coach O'Connell also knows Diedrick well, and has high praise for his floor game.

"Don is a classic nasty player," said O'Connell. "Not dirty, but nasty. He's just so aggressive. He's a great kid to coach."

Being a native of Michigan, and being that aggressive, it's only appropriate that Diedrick's favorite player and on-court role model is perhaps the nastiest player of them all, Detroit's Bill Laimbeer.

"Anytime I say that I catch some flak," Diedrick laughed. "But he's a big guy with a great outside shot, and I have about a 17-18-foot shooting range. I'd like to think I'm like him."

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